In light of the fact that over the course of the last 24 hours I have fallen quite ill with a cold or virus of some kind that we would discuss the role of Wicca for the sick Witch.
Now, I am a healthcare professional. Clearly I have no phobia of the medical field and feel I can put at least a modicum of trust in conventionally trained nurses and physicians for my care. This is not true of all people, and certainly not true of all Pagans. Most of us prefer to seek a “natural” remedy first or will work a spell to reverse the illness. With minor problems I do not find any fault in this–truth be told, a person with an otherwise healthy body and functioning immune system can fight off most viruses with proper rest and fluids. A sprained ankle can heal if you ice it and put a brace on it but don’t walk more than necessary. You don’t need a doctor for every cold (colds are viruses anyway–which means antibiotics WILL NOT heal you because antibiotics kill bacteria, NOT viruses). A little magick to speed healing, spelled tea to soothe an irritated throat, these are not harmful, and even better if they work.
However, an illness that lingers without improvement, a fever that doesn’t break with fluids, tyelenol, and rest, major bodily disorders such as thyroid disease or diabetes, cancer–magick can be powerful, and it can do miraculous things, but I can assure you that if anyone had found a reliable spell that always removes cancer from the body, people would be lining up around the block. There would be no doubt of magick’s efficacy. Conspiracy theorists like to argue that there will never be a cure for cancer because Big Pharma makes money hand over fist in their current treatment of cancer patients. There’s a problem with this, though, and it’s a lack of understanding of biology. We ALL have cancer. Every single person has cancerous cells in their body. The disease we know as cancer comes about when the fail-safes in our body don’t function properly–the cancer cells are then able to proliferate. A cure for cancer will not stop people from GETTING cancer and needing treatment, and they could still exploit the cure by making it wildly expensive. A vaccine is not tenable, either, because the mechanisms that create cancer are the same ones that promote adaptation and evolution. Stopping this mechanism altogether with a vaccine has its own dangers. Balance in all things.
All of this being said, conspiracy theories being true or not, there are some diseases out there that need more than herbs and spells. Modern medicine has turned potion making from an art to a science–it IS Witchcraft. Village wise women were the first ones to boil willow bark and make tinctures for aches and pain, which later became known as aspirin. Witchcraft is more than mysticism and the occult, it is science. If you are ill and not improving, if you have a major disease, a broken bone, or if you are pregnant, I implore you to find a doctor or nurse you can trust and seek treatment. At this stage the work of Wicca can be an effective adjunct to, but not a substitute for, quality healthcare.
The sick Witch, too, has their energies depleted. You need it to heal, and casting it out only to return to you in an inefficient use of it. Find a Wiccan friend to do it for you. In addition, sickness means there is an imbalance, and working magick without balance may mean unforeseen consequences.
Drink your tea. Eat chicken soup. Sleep. Ask friends to light a candle for you. And if you aren’t improving or something is clearly wrong, go to a doctor–they are your secular shaman.
P.S. Everything in the world is made out of chemicals, including dihydrogen oxide (water). It’s what chemicals we use and why, and how, that determines their danger and efficacy.
I’m going to go pop Dayquil and pass out now.